A bat cave in Texas, a manatee watering hole in Florida, and an elk refuge in Montana, along with first-class zoos and aquariums make up our list of 20 free animal viewing spots in the U.S. Get a sneak peek of the list below, then visit us online for the full lineup:
Congress Avenue Bridge Bats Austin, Texas
In summer, Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge is home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats—the largest urban colony in the world. At sunset they take flight in search of a bite to eat, and the spectacle blackens the Texas sky. The Austin American-Statesman maintains a free viewing area next to the bridge, as well as a bat hotline with the latest flight times.
Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary Florida
This sanctuary on Florida’s Gulf Coast bills itself as the largest wild bird hospital and sanctuary in the United States. It brings in some 10,000 wild birds a year to be nursed back to health for re-release into nature. Hundreds of birds are on view here at any given time, from pelicans to birds of prey.
Point Reyes National Seashore California
The rocky headlands and beaches of Point Reyes are a popular spot for elephant seals, and a growing population of some 1,500 to 2,000 of the enormous animals can be seen here during breeding season from December through March. Be sure to gaze out to sea as well—migrating gray whales can often be seen between January and May.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Help us build our list! Tell us about your favorite (and free!) animal viewing spots in the U.S. or the world. Leave the details in the comments section below.
Photo: Chad Fife/My Shot
Sponsored by Toyota Venza